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Cy the Cynic says the problem with New Year's resolutions is that if you kept every one, you'd be impossible to live with. Still, resolve to count your tricks in 2005.

Today's declarer had made no such resolution. He drew trumps, cashed the A-K of diamonds and gave up a diamond, hoping for a 3-3 break. West took the ten and led the queen, and South ruffed and next finessed with the queen of clubs. East won, and South lost a heart and another club. Down one.

It seems South resolved to go down. He had 10 winners available: five trumps in his hand, two diamonds, a heart, a club and a club ruff in dummy. After South wins the first trick, he must lead the ace and queen of clubs. He wins East's trump return, leads a diamond to the ace and ruffs his last club.

South must not come to his hand with the ace of diamonds for an early club finesse. East would return a trump, and since South would have no quick re-entry to his hand, the defense could get in to lead a fatal third trump.

You hold: 8 5 K J 7 6 J 9 K 10 7 5 3. Your partner opens one spade, you respond 1NT and he bids two diamonds. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Since partner has at least five spades but maybe only four diamonds, bid two spades. He won't expect real support since you didn't raise to two spades directly. A "false preference" also gives him another chance if he has extra values. To bid 2NT, you'd need a super-maximum 1NT response.

North dealer

N-S vulnerable

A 8 3 2
K 7 5 3
6 4 3
Q 9 5
Q 10 8 4
J 9 8
8 5
K J 7 6
J 9
K 10 7 5 3
J 10 9 7 2
10 4
A 6 2
6 4 2
North East South West
2 NTPass3 Pass
4 All Pass
Opening lead -- 3

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